Rassie Erasmus’ return as Bok coach positions South Africa to win a hat-trick of World Cups
Another piece of good news for Springboks fans is that Rassie Erasmus will return to the position of head coach, which was recently left by Jacques Nienaber, who will join Leinster in Dublin.
Nobody is going to bet on the Boks winning a hat-trick of Rugby World Cup titles in Australia in 2027 with possibly the best rugby mind in the world in charge for the next four years.
Nienaber revealed in April that he was leaving the Boks for a new challenge, and there was much discussion about who would replace over, but few anticipated Rassie to return.
After the Boks imploded under Allister Coetzee in 2018, Erasmus performed an ambulance service on them, and a year later they won the Webb Ellis Cup in Japan.
Rassie is thinking along the lines of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” after landing Title No. 4 last week. He knows how to win Test matches for South Africa and refuses to modify the method.
The Boks’ lineup will remain largely unchanged next season. There is also the departure of attack coach Felix Jones to England and the retirement of veteran No. 8 Duane Vermeulen, but everything else remains the same.
Erasmus would admit that over the past four years, he has evolved as a coach, and, let’s admit it, he has probably done some maturing with regard to how he handles officials. The Boks went from being detested by the referee only a year ago to being a pleasure to ref.
It is fair to say that the Boks were on the right side of Ben O’Keefe in the quarter-final against France, while they also benefited from a crucial refereeing decision at the death of their semi-final against England, and in the final, Handré Pollard nailed all four of the attempts at post given to him by Wayne Barnes.
The way Erasmus played the officials throughout the France World Cup was miles away from his ill-fated video assassination of Australian referee Nic Berry after losing the first Test in the 2021 series against the British & Irish Lions.
That resulted in a long match-day ban from World Rugby.
More recently, Erasmus has been in the headlines for his shrewd tactics during the World Cup, including his famous seven-one bench split for the final against the All Blacks.
“Where Rassie is very good is looking at the cause of the problem and saying this is what we need to fix,” former assistant coach Matt Proudfoot told media.
Proudfoot was part of the Bok coaching staff that won in Japan, but he left to be an assistant in England under Eddie Jones.
“He is driven by that process; he never sleeps, looking for that advantage. Rassie has a unique ability to see what is at the core of the matter, what is the one thing that is going to make a difference.”
Assistant coaches Mzwandile Stick and Deon Davids, as well as scrum coach Daan Human, are expected to remain in their roles along with head of athletic performance Andy Edwards.
SA Rugby has not made a formal announcement about Erasmus’s intentions to revert to the role of head coach.
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